SOLAR PV could be similar to the shale gas disruption for the utilities industry

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1 BEYOND MAINSTREAM SOLAR PV could be similar to the shale gas disruption for the utilities industry JUNE 215

2 THE BIG <1% The share of traditional utilities in the European installed solar PV capacity is less than 1% at the end 214. The remaining 99% is owned by investors, project developers, households and commercial companies and they compete with utilities in electricity generation. p % The share of solar PV electricity production in total European electricity production can reach 12% by 23, quadrupling the share in 213. Solar PV will start to have a large impact on the business model of utilities. p cts kwh The electricity retail price, including taxes, grid fees and the EEG levy equals 29 cents/kwh in Germany, while the feed-in tariff for residential rooftop installations equals only 12.5 cents/kwh. Raising self-consumption with home automation tools and storage enables consumer to put the difference of 17 cents/kwh in their pockets, threatening the traditional utilities offer. p. 8 New business models for utilities p ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

3 Introduction: Solar PV could be a game changer for the utility industry In just 3 years, solar PV has developed from a niche segment into a high growth market. Once mainly used in remote locations, it is now installed on all types of rooftops and land sites on all continents, almost regardless of irradiation. Solar PV is therefore moving into a position to become a game changer for the utility industry. We see this move as disruptive for the utilities industry as the shale gas revolution that dramatically impacted the whole energy landscape. Solar PV enables energy consumers to produce power. Its energy is produced at the site of consumption; this decentralization reduces the need for transmission. Utility companies, whose business models are based on centralized power generation and one-way transmission, will have to prepare for the lower volumes and lower peak loads, for the reduced revenues and margins in turn. But solar PV not only presents challenges; it also creates new opportunities for energy delivery and for the services that will install, maintain and operate these new facilities. As it depends on the sun, the production profile of solar PV is intermittent depending on solar irradiation and clouds. Production is highest around noon and absent during the night. New solutions will have to be developed that can deliver consistent electricity to meet demand. Utilities, in redefining their business models to match this new state of affairs, can position themselves to play an important role in matching energy supply and demand in the decades to come. This paper describes the challenges and opportunities for utilities posed by solar PV. The following section briefly discusses the historical development of solar PV. The third section highlights the drivers of solar PV, why consumers buy and install solar PV panels. The fourth section then considers the forecasts for the penetration of solar PV worldwide and for Europe in more detail. In the fifth and sixth sections, the impact on utilities, and the transmission and distribution companies respectively, will be discussed. The main findings and conclusions are presented in the final section. ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 3

4 Solar PV has developed from a niche market into a high-growth industry The photovoltaic effect was proven in 1839, but it was not until 195 that the first solar cells were produced for satellites. In the late 197s, solar PV was used to power remote and off-grid locations. In the early 199s, governments in Germany, Japan and the US started the growth of the solar PV sector through special programs that targeted both deployment and the build-up of a domestic industry. For instance, Germany s 1, roofs and 1, roofs programs built its industry s capabilities in solar panel rooftop installation. Likewise, the Japanese government s New Sunshine Project created a solar photovoltaic industry and a domestic market for solar power. Since these early initiatives, government policies for solar PV have matured, and many countries began to offer feed-in tariffs, net metering regulations, tax credits or other support schemes to encourage installation. Over time, though focus has shifted to reducing CO2 emissions, the aims driving the solar PV sector still include building a cleantech industry and reducing foreign dependence for fuel. As shown in figure A, the solar PV industry has grown exponentially. In 214, worldwide nominal capacity installed totaled 177 GW; each year, this capacity grows by about 4 GW. A GLOBAL SOLAR PV CAPACITY BY REGION Cumulative solar PV capacity [GW]: Annual solar PV capacity additions [GW]: RoW MEA China Americas APAC Europe Source: EPIA, Roland Berger 4 ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

5 3.27 B PRICING SYSTEM PRICE EVOLUTION - EUROPE 1) [EUR/WATT P ] % % % Residential Commercial Utility ground-mounted RESIDENTIAL SYSTEM PRICE COMPARISON [213; EUR/WATT P ] As of 213, system prices were heterogeneous across regions, with residential prices in the US and Japan being about twice as high as in Germany and three times higher than in China. Prices of modules are similar across Europe, the US and China, but are exceptionally high in Japan, where 9% of modules are built domestically in a two-tier wholesale system in which suppliers show high bargaining power. System prices are also higher in France than in other EU countries, as the French state has favored the development of locally-produced higher value-added building-integrated modules (ISB and IAB). The key price difference between US and German systems are not hardware related but depend on soft costs. In Germany, higher average system sizes lead to economies of scale, and scale and experience effects account for lower installation labor and overhead costs. On the contrary, the US market is more fragmented and has more complex interconnection and permitting procedures leading to higher BoS costs. China Germany Italy France 2) Japan USA Balance of system Inverter Module 1) Weighed average for Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy and Sweden 2) France: prices for ISB (Simplified Building Integration) ; Component prices unavailable Source: IEA PVPS, Roland Berger ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 5

6 Most installed capacity is located in Europe, but with solar PV s expansion China and Asia in general are seeing the highest growth. As the number of installed solar PV panels has grown, the price of solar panels has come down. This effect, of course, was the intention behind government initiatives to provide financial support to buyers of solar PV. Prices for panel modules have dropped from around USD 1 per watt peak (Wp) in 1975 to below USD.6/Wp in 214. C Total system prices have also fallen, dropping 15-23% per annum between 21 and 213. Depending on the application and region, a solar PV system at the end of 213 cost between USD 1.29/Wp for a utility ground-mounted system and USD 2./Wp for a residential rooftop system in Europe. The balance of system (BOS), including installation, is now at ca. 5% of the system s total costs. B C SOLAR PV EXPERIENCE CURVE [MW, USD/WATTP] PV module price [USD 214/Wp] , 1, 1, 1,, Cumulative module production [MW] Crystalline Silicon FS CdTe Thin Film Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, PV news, European Commission-DG Joint Research Centre, Roland Berger 6 ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

7 Decreasing costs and new technological and commercial developments make solar PV a viable source of electricity Solar PV systems are installed on roofs of buildings and on land at a utility-scale. Owners can be either the owners of the roofs themselves, or investors who rent the roofs for the installation. Utility-scale installations are built by a diverse range of players, including investors, project developers and utilities. The purchasing decision is different for each type of player, since the value of a solar PV system varies by its use, the buyer s ability to sell electricity at attractive prices, the applicable regulations, and, especially for households, the ease of purchase. This section describes the drivers for solar PV in more detail: the cost evolution of solar PV (1), evolutions in the regulatory framework (2), new technological developments that can raise the value of solar PV (3), and new commercial developments that make the decision to buy a solar PV system easier (4). 1. Cost evolution The two main reasons to buy a solar PV system are: (1) that the electricity generated can be sold at a profit, or (2) that the electricity generated is cheaper than buying it from a utility company or obtaining it from an alternative source. In the purchasing decision, utilities will compare the levelized costs of electricity (LCOE 1) ) of solar PV with the wholesale electricity price. Households, on the other hand, will compare the LCOE with the residential electricity price, including grid and retail costs and taxes. Though residential systems may be more expensive than utility-scale system, the higher residential electricity price as reference still makes them attractive. An often overlooked item in this cost comparison, however, is the difference in the cost of capital for consumers versus investors. Whereas investors use a market-based weighted average cost of capital, consumers often compare a solar PV investment with the interest rate on their savings account. This further raises the attractiveness of an investment in solar PV by households. Commercial players in the SME segment have adopted a professional view in making their larger-scale investments in solar PV, while benefiting from retail prices and legal certainty of feed-in regulation in their business cases. Since solar PV used to be more expensive than the wholesale or retail power price, governments have provided subsidies to bridge the difference and promote increased installation. Now, solar PV system prices have come down; in certain cases, subsidies are no longer even needed. Other areas of regulatory activities become more vital, such as net metering, feed-in priorities, take-or-pay obligations and the like. The continuing cost reductions are coming from higher module efficiency, cheaper parts production, as well as lower installation costs. The price of solar modules, for example, dropped 1-fold between 1995 and 214. The BOS and inverter now make up 5% of the total costs of a residential solar system. 1) The LCOE (levelized cost of energy) is a metric for the cost of electricity produced by a generator. It is calculated by accounting for all of a system s expected lifetime costs (including construction, financing, fuel, maintenance, taxes, insurance and incentives), which are then divided by the system s lifetime expected power output (kwh). ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 7

8 D DECLINING LCOE THROUGH TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESSION Higher module efficiency [%] 25 Lower CAPEX investments [USD/W] First Solar P-Type Multi c-si P-Type Mono c-si N-Type Mono c-si Other Balance of plant Module EPC Inverter CONTINUOUS DECLINE IN LCOE Global average LCOE of solar PV is estimated to have declined by around half between 21 and 214. Rapid advancements in technology leading to higher module efficiencies coupled with lower module / inverter costs and increasingly competitive structures in most markets pave the way for lower LCOEs going forward. Deutsche Bank predicted that 8% of solar systems gloablly will be at grid parity with conventional energy in 2 years. Penetration rates of solar electricity set to surge with such a clear trend of declining LCOE Source: Bloomberg, Agora, IRENA, Deutsche Bank, Roland Berger 3 And the potential for further cost reductions is considerable; Deutsche Bank predicts a 4% reduction in total system costs by 217 1). D The LCOE of solar PV has also come down, reaching USD /MWh for utility-scale systems and USD /MWh for residential application. LCOEs will decline furthers. The LCOE ranges are large due to the significant differences in irradiation, import levies on modules, BOS, and the differences in installation costs between countries and their chosen weighted cost of capital. These ranges, however, are expected to shrink, as shown in figure E. As a result of the low system prices, grid parity has already been reached in many countries, including Germany, Spain and Italy in the residential applications, where the price of solar PV compares with the regular retail price, including transport costs and taxes. In Germany the retail price is 17 cents/kwh higher than the feed-in tariff (as proxy for the LCOE), making the purchase of a solar PV system a viable alternative. The recent tender for a utility-scale solar PV system in Abu Dhabi at a price of USD 59.8/MWh also reveals that grid parity has been reached at wholesale prices in certain other regions. The continued decline of LCOEs will increase the robustness of grid parity in the residential segment, as well as in utility-scale solar PV, which will be able to compete with wholesale prices in more countries around the world. That said, further cost reductions are needed to foster large-scale uptake. The price of decentralized solar PV electricity injected into the grid greatly determines the profitability of the household system 1). Most consumers do not use all the power they generate at home; in Germany, for example, the average is between 1) Deutsche Bank, Crossing the Chasm, February ) Note that in some countries, all generated power has to be transmitted into the grid at a predefined price. It is then purchased at a similar cost. 8 ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

9 2-3%. If feed-in tariffs are lower than the LCOE, the profitability of the system is reduced. Taxes also help determine or discourage uptake. In some countries, like the Netherlands, solar PV consumption is tax-exempt. The retail electricity bill also often does not include large fixed elements, like a capacity fee for access to the grid, which would reduce the price differential between solar PV and retail electricity. If solar PV is taxed or fixed elements are introduced, lower LCOEs will be required to ensure solar PV s attractiveness. 2. Regulation Before solar PV reached grid parity, many governments offered subsidies for solar power generation and devised special rules for grid access. Now, governments are gradually phasing out these subsidies and rules, as development has gone faster than expected, targeting a certain range of annual installations and adapting their support accordingly. In Germany, for instance, the feed-in tariff is now being reduced every month for installations up to 1 MW. There is no support for installations above 1 MW. Since 212, private consumption of electricity from a home s solar PV system does not receive any means of support, though households do not have to pay the EEG levy (renewable energy support scheme) on the electricity they use which amounts to cents 6.17 cents/kwh for the average household (based on April 215 figures). Larger utility-scale installations have to bid in an auction to receive a market premium on the solar PV electricity price. Germany has also announced that when total installed capacity reaches 52 GW, no more subsidies for solar PV will be given. Current capacity stands at 38 GW. In France, the feed-in tariff is also being gradually reduced. The LCOE will eventually become lower than the regulated tariff, especially in the south. Setting its feed-in tariffs and auctions, the French government targets annual installations of 1, MW. In the UK, with its lower irradiation levels, consumers still receive a generation stipend for solar PV, but the level of this stipend is also being gradually lowered. E LEVELIZED COST OF ELECTRICITY OF SOLAR PV [USD/MWH] Source: IEA, Roland Berger Utility-scale Rooftop ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 9

10 Larger utility-scale installations need to bid for a Contract for Difference for installations larger than 5 MW. Overall, the nature of the regulation of solar PV is expected to transition from promoting uptake to reducing negative externalities on the energy system. Given that consumers do not usually consume most of their own household s PV generated electricity, the feed-in of this excess energy and the grid connection itself will be regulated, especially in the residential and small commercial segments. Such regulation, however, is expected to temporarily discourage, rather than promote, solar PV uptake though this effect will fade once wholesale price grid parity is reached. This regulation will likely take three forms. First, new regulation will arise on the prices at which households can feed-in their excess power into the grid. These feed-in prices can be well below the wholesale prices given their non-dispatchable nature and the location of injection. However, when self-consumption levels reach 5%, and at current LCOEs of less than 5% of the retail price, solar PV will still be a profitable investment even if all excess electricity is wasted. Therefore, this type of regulation is not expected to drastically affect solar PV. Second, new regulations will force consumers to pay for their access to grid capacity, rather than for their use of that capacity. Under current schemes, solar PV owners pay relatively little for their use of the grid capacity, whose price depends on total retail electricity consumption. However, grid costs depend more on fixed assets than on use, so households with no solar PV pay a disproportionate share of the total costs an indirect incentive to switch to solar PV. Changing the cost allocation in this regard will delay solar PV uptake, but not indefinitely, since grid parity will just be reached later. Third, taxes and levies on self-consumption of electricity will also arise. Unlike retail electricity, electricity from solar PV is currently tax-exempt in most countries. This tax scheme incentivizes energy efficiency and helps finance the still uncompetitive renewable electricity. Governments may well impose taxes on solar PV electricity in order to treat all household energy systems equally. The German government, in fact, has imposed 3% of the EEG levy on self-consumption of electricity from solar PV installations on commercial buildings. Such taxes and levies will slow solar PV uptake, but will have no impact once the LCOE has reached wholesale power grid parity. 3. New technological developments Even though the LCOE of solar PV is already lower than the retail electricity price, solar PV is not yet attractive for all households. Most consumers only use 2-3% of their privately generated electricity, and often receive only a break-even fee for the electricity they feed-in the grid. Storage solutions, like batteries, demand-side management, and other smart home solutions would raise the self-consumption ratio. Most battery systems still cost over EUR 8/kWh, though in April 215 the US-based company Tesla announced a new, cheaper module at USD 5/kWh after inverter costs and installation. Despite the benefits of high self-consumption, the total costs of the solar PV system will remain higher in the near term. However, the battery price will fall quickly. By 225, the price of batteries is projected to drop below USD 2/kWh, as shown in figure F. Currently, battery storage would add another USD.14/kWh to the LCOE, but this is expected to drop to only USD.2/kWh within five years. In Germany, in fact, household solar PV and battery storage will reach grid parity by 216. Demand-side management techniques in the home will also raise self-consumption levels. SMA and other inverter companies are already offering solutions that predict power output based on weather forecasts, and which automatically start electricity-intensive appliances like washing machines when power production is optimal. These demand-side tools are reported to increase self-consumption rates to 45%. Solutions which connect smart systems to storage are also arising. EDF, for example, has proposed the use of boilers as a cheap means to store PV-produced electricity, leveraging its Linky smart metering technology to make 1 ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

11 F BATTERY PRICE PROJECTIONS [USD 212 /KWH] 8 use of the 11 million boilers in France that partially rely on the grid. With affordable storage and home automation in place, self-consumption rates of solar PV, adoption rates, and the profitability of the system as a whole are expected to rise. 4. New commercial developments BNEF Averaged Navigant EIA 248 Source: BNEF, Navigant, EIA, Rocky Mountains Institute, Roland Berger A solar PV system is characterized by large capital expenditures and very limited operational costs. Because many households and SMEs do not have the capital needed upfront, several players have set up various financial solutions. For instance, Sungevity or DZ-4 and similar companies offer solar PV systems, leasing the system to the homeowner in either a financial or operating lease. Utilities in Europe also offer lease constructions, receiving reimbursement for the system via the utility bill. US firms are even moving to Europe to offer their products for these leasing schemes, and new European companies are arising as well. In addition to reducing the electricity bill, one of the key arguments for households to lease a solar PV system is the guarantee on revenues and maintenance costs for a product with a lifetime of more than 15-2 years. Also, the risk of shorter longevity is carried by the leasing company. Nevertheless, the majority of European households still opt for buying their own system; adoption of leasing is more common in the SME segment. The ease of buying solar PV systems has also improved. In the early days, a local installation company would install the solar PV system. Nowadays, via websites and apps, utilities provide a quote for installation which includes revenue projects based on satellite pictures of the rooftop. IKEA also now offers installation of solar PV systems. Solar PV is coming more and more in reach for the average household. These commercial developments are lowering the hurdles for household and SME purchase of a solar PV system. Paired with greater knowledge about these systems and the keeping up with the Joneses effect, commercial dynamics will ensure continued solar PV adoption. ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 11

12 Solar PV penetration will be high around the world, including in Europe Due to solar PV s declining costs in the utility, commercial and residential segments, its installation will become profitable, even without subsidies. In the absence of subsidies, the growth path will become more stable. No more boom and bust cycles sudden changes in government policy will cause the large interruptions seen in various countries in the EU, Japan and the United States over the past years. Most LCOE forecasts for electricity from solar PV predict that grid parity will be reached for utility-scale and residential use. Using price forecasts for solar and alternative energy sources, most institutes have developed energy scenarios for the share of solar PV in total electricity production. Figure G demonstrates that these penetration rates vary substantially depending on the assumptions made. In its oceans scenario, Shell is the most optimistic with a penetration rate of more than 25% worldwide. The IEA is the least optimistic, with a rate of max 5% in its World Energy Outlook. However, in its Energy Technology Perspectives report it predicts a rate of 16% in its high renewable variant of the 2 degrees scenario. These energy scenarios reveal a pessimism for the uptake of solar PV. They assume high LCOEs for the near future, and their capital cost projections for 22 and 235 were actually already reached in 213. These energy scenarios are often developed from the perspective of optimizing the energy system, while the decision to buy a solar PV panel is often made by households with the aim of reducing their energy costs and they do not take externalities into account. G SHARE OF SOLAR PV IN TOTAL ELECTRICITY GENERATION BY ENERGY SCENARIO [TWH %] Global 3 Europe Shell: Oceans Shell: Mountains WEC: Symphony WEC: Jazz Greenpeace: Revolution Greenpeace: Reference IEA: 45 scenario IEA: current policies Source: IEA, European Commission DG TREN, Shell, WWF, Greenpeace, WEC, Roland Berger 12 ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

13 H SHARE SHARE OF SOLAR PV IN EUROPEAN GENERATION CAPACITY Generation capacity 1) in ENTSO-E area [GW] Generation capacity and base and peakload demand in 225 [GW] 1, ,446 1,4 1,125 1, Green transition 23 Green revolution Germany Greece Italy Belgium Czech Republic Netherlands Spain France Solar Other Baseload demand Peakload demand 1) Scenario B of ENTSO-E system adequacy report; UK data taken from the slow progress scenario in the National Grid Future Energy report Source: ENTSO-E, National Grid, Roland Berger ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 13

14 I SOLAR PV INSTALLATION BY TYPE Utility-scale solar PV [GW]: Type of installation in 218 [GW %]: % 3% 72% 39% 5% 59% 16% 84% % 35% 61% 5% % 3% 3% 28% 41% 33% 28% 2% Europe Americas China APAC MEA North & Central America Asia Europe Other Utility-scale Rooftop Source: Wikisolar, EPIA, Roland Berger We believe that the forecasts and visions of the European transmission system operators are more in line with future generation capacity in Europe, as shown in figure H. European TSOs assume higher adoption rates of solar PV; by 225, Europe s solar PV generation capacity is forecast at 12% or 147 GW. In ENTSO-E s green revolution scenario, solar PV might even reach 21% of installed capacity, or 12% of consumption, by 23. The higher share predictions reveal that solar PV can have a drastic impact. In Germany, Greece and Italy, solar PV capacity will already exceed baseload demand by 225. It could even exceed 5% of peakload demand, making export and storage necessary to deal with the market situation. In contrast to other regions in the world, the adoption of utility-scale installations will be lower in Europe, where more will be built in Southern European than in Northern Europe. Lower irradiation factors in Europe hinder reaching grid parity in this segment, and local and national European governments often take a negative stance towards utility-scale solar. Investors and other project developers own the utility-scale installations in Europe. With a share of less than 1% in total solar PV capacity, solar PV is a gap in the production portfolio of traditional utilities. I 1 14 ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS

15 Utilities will have to adapt their business models to solar PV The rise of solar PV will affect utilities in a number of ways, including reductions in volume and peakload prices. Higher intermittency may affect the ability to operate power plants, and as a consequence new pricing models in the electricity sector will have to be developed. 1. Lower volumes in specific segments In the European Union, solar PV systems will be mainly owned by households and commercial players, including agriculture. Together, they will produce 9-12% of total electricity consumption in the EU by 23. Utilities will have to reduce electricity production at their power plants by at least the same amount. The residential and commercial segments are responsible for almost 6% of total electricity consumption. With its higher margins, these segments also constitute the more attractive markets for utilities. Margins are lower in the industrial segment, where prices are close to wholesale and where consumption profiles and prices reflect the baseload production. Solar PV will thus replace between 5% and 1% of the more attractive market segments, as seen in figure J. Solar PV s replacement of utility production and its share of the residential and commercial segments differ by country. In Italy and Spain, solar PV could account for 33-47% of power volumes in the residential and 26-46% of volumes in the commercial segment. In France, replacement will be lower at 1-17%. While solar PV could replace almost 14% of European utility power production on average, it will not fully replace 14% of the revenues from utilities. Self-consumption is currently at 2-3% and could increase to 5%, and the excess electricity needs to be bought by market players. Utilities, already with access to these consumers, are in a good position to buy and sell the excess electricity and thus increase their trading activities. Utilities can also leverage their storage solutions, which have longer cycles than same-day batteries. 2. Intermittency will impact pricing In contrast to conventional electricity generation, solar PV cannot be dispatched. Electricity is generated whenever the sun shines. Ultimately, this will impact conventional electricity generation, which will have to adapt its production, due to solar PV s absence of marginal costs. Solar PV will always push out more expensive electricity generation options. The production of solar PV is highest between noon and 2pm, when irradiation is highest. Production swings will also occur due to weather conditions. With higher installed capacities of solar PV, the impact of the day/night profile and weather conditions will affect the utilization of conventional electricity. Large weekly and seasonal effects will also be present. A single week could see a tripling of daily production, simply due to weather. Production can also be eight times higher in summer than in winter. K This intermittency presents both challenges and opportunities for utilities, which will have to complement solar PV production while dealing with changed electricity prices. For example, the intermittency requires utilities to be able to quickly respond to fluctuations. Household use of batteries might partially offset the impact of daily fluctuations, but not seasonal. ROLAND BERGER STRATEGY CONSULTANTS 15

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